Wednesday, March 03, 2004


Payson man honored for World War II service
Date: Wednesday, March 03 @ 00:00:30
Topic Our Towns

Charles Gate of Payson and two of his brothers enlisted in the Marines in Wyoming on Sept. 13, 1940.

"The people in the neighborhood laughed because it was Friday the 13th," said Gate's granddaughter, Virginia Burgess.

While he was stationed in Iceland for several months before America joined the war, he received a surprise visit from Winston Churchill.

"I was in a long line of men and (Churchill) came up to me and asked, 'Do you use your rifle very much?' " Gate said. "I answered, 'Yes, Yes I do.' "

He later spent 32 months fighting in the South Pacific, lost a brother to friendly fire and met his bride of nearly 60 years at that same brother's funeral in Heber City.

Tuesday, 90-year-old Gate was honored by the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps League, a national society of former marines, with a certificate of appreciation and a book of memorabilia from his years of military service.

Gate was surprised at his Payson home by two Marine staff sergeants in their dress uniforms, along with Gate's wife, brother, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The book of memorabilia included newspaper articles about areas of Gate's military service, photos and postcards that have been kept in Marine Corps League archives since the war.

The certificate, recently issued by the Marine Corps, thanked Gate for his faithful and dedicated service to the Marine Corps and a grateful nation, Burgess said.

Gate's brother, Alan, worked with the Marine Corps League to get Charles and their older brother, Jack, the recognition he thinks they deserve. Jack was honored at a similar event in his home in Wyoming. Alan said both brothers are over 90 now and deserve to be thanked before it is too late.

Alan said the Gate family is very proud of Chuck and Jack and shows this pride by learning and reciting war stories.

"I was only 11-years-old when my three brothers enlisted," Alan Gate said. "Chuck had some very active combat in World War II, and I knew about all of that while it was happening."

The rest of the family learns about and remembers "Grandpa's" war experiences through "Grandma."

"He doesn't talk too much about it," Charles' wife Doris said. "But I remember all the stories."

Burgess said her grandfather was once stranded on Russell Island in the South Pacific with his men while surrounded by the enemy.

The military dropped Gate and 180 men off on the island with their rifles, backpacks and one day's food rations. After 30 days of eating coconut and wild limes and living in fox holes to escape Japanese overhead fire, Charles and many of the men were rescued by an American ship.

"Thirty days!" Doris said. "I think that is why his knees went out when he got older."

Jill Fellow can be
reached at 344-2624 or

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page D3.
This article comes from The Daily Herald

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